As this Guide demonstrates, developing a teacher policy is a complex endeavour, which depends on a number of political, social, cultural and economic factors – many of them external to education.
In the first place, implementation is often very country-specific. Teacher policy may not have the desired political ‘visibility’ during implementation that, for example, a new school or free enrolments for all learners may have.
As political figures often need to show immediate outcomes for their constituents, teacher policy development becomes politically complex and costly, as pointed out in other regional policy guides (OREALC, 2013: 9, 90). Factors affecting implementation include overall government policies, capacities and political orientation, as well as the state of the education system and teaching profession at the time of policy development and implementation. Political and social forces at work in the country – for example, the strength of teachers’ organisations or other stakeholders – add to the project’s complexity.
Bearing in mind all of these potential influences, the ultimate goal of developing a policy is to implement it as far as possible. Therefore, as Chapter 4 proposes, plans for implementation should already be well underway as part of the policy development process, with a timeline and roadmap sketched out by the policy developers that are appropriate to the country and educational context.
Some evidence put forward to guide education policy implementation in OECD countries may help guide future efforts in these and other countries (Box 5.1).
One of the first decisions, depending on the country’s political context, will be to determine whether the policy is best applied through a government programme or campaign, executive or administrative decisions/rules, legislation, or a combination thereof. Questions to bear in mind include:
As outlined in Chapter 4, reflection on an implementation plan will have begun during the policy development process. The next step in the process is to develop a clear and manageable implementation vehicle and plan for decision-makers.
Research on effective implementation of education reforms centred on school improvement efforts in high-income OECD countries points to several factors, including:
The focus of this section is implementing policy and the structures that need to be in place to ensure the successful implementation.
As you read this section, make brief notes on:
Think about your own context and reflect on which aspects of the implementation process are strong and which could be strengthened.
As Chapter 4 outlines (in the section on Phase 3 of the policy process), legislation to implement a teacher policy may or may not be required under a country’s political system, but implementing policy through national legislation adds another – potentially decisive – political dimension. In a democratic society, the national law is supreme in relation to the country’s constitution. Legislation is almost always accompanied by funding and administrative implementation measures that greatly enhance (but do not guarantee) the chances for a policy to be successfully implemented. As noted in Box 2.6, examples include the ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation, adopted in 2001, and the ‘Race to the Top’ initiative in the United States, introduced as part of the economic stimulus legislation adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Given the federal nature of the United States, both programmes incorporated substantial financial incentives encouraging individual states and local school districts to follow the policy goals, based on strictly defined criteria and plans. Many states and local school districts developed plans to meet these policies’ criteria and secure the necessary federal grants, often focusing on teacher assessment and employment issues, as outlined in the ‘Race to the Top’ initiative. Recent reports reveal mixed implementation results, noting challenges such as too few resources, lack of communication and stakeholder involvement (see, among others, Baker, Oluwole, and Green, 2013; Boser, 2012; Weiss, 2013). Nevertheless, the political debates around the legislation and the efforts to comply with implementation incentives have given the policies much more visibility and influence than they would otherwise have had.
Planning and providing technical and legal support to a country’s legislative body to adopt a law(s) to implement a national teacher policy is not without costs, delays and potential setbacks. Box 4.5 describes the process and timeline for the adoption of India’s Right to Free Education Act, 2009. Including legal challenges, this policy was officially approved only in 2012, at the end of a ten-year process. The adoption of the legislation, and its reaffirmation in line with the country’s constitution, is a potentially powerful tool for education authorities and stakeholders to advance teacher policy in a country that engages nearly 15% of the world’s primary and secondary teachers, and needs an estimated 3 million more teachers by 2030 (UNESCO, 2014; UIS, 2014).
If legislation is the chosen policy implementation path, technical support from policy developers is essential at various stages: drafting legislation to include legal experts’ knowledge and input; responding to parliamentary enquiries (commissions/committees or direct responses to lawmakers or their aides); building relationships with political interest groups, including important stakeholders; lobbying legislators and the media; and refining the legislation or its implementation provisions post-adoption.
Policy developers within the MoE or other teacher employer/management agency or department may be mandated or choose to employ executive or administrative paths to policy implementation. Derived from institutional authority given by legislation and accompanying regulations, such avenues are less onerous (including in terms of staff and financial resources). Achieving the desired impact may prove more difficult, because they do not always have the necessary political authority and accompanying financial backing. At the same time, they can be a more cost-effective means of policy implementation, and even an improvement on less authoritative instruments, such as issuing guidelines in decentralised systems. Kenya’s teacher recruitment policy is an example (Box 5.2).
Kenya’s TSC has a mandate to establish and maintain a sufficient and professional teaching service for public educational institutions in the country. Decentralization of TSC functions to district and school levels, to bring services closer to users,was followed in the late 1990s by a government embargo on public service recruitment, thereby stopping the automatic employment of trained teachers. The Commission then adopted a new policy of recruiting teachers on the basis of demand and vacancies through natural attrition and implemented annual guidelines, which were revised every year before the recruitment exercise.
In 2006, the Commission developed and published a comprehensive policy to enhance efficiency in teacher recruitment. The policy provides direction for future recruitment, defines the roles of the recruiting agents, and outlines the roles and responsibilities of other actors involved in the process. It lays out an institutional framework for implementation, including lead and implementing units, tools for implementation (among which guidelines to decentralized units, employment forms and teacher codes of conduct and ethics), monitoring and evaluation (including a matrix) and revision to address emerging issues. Its authority derives from both legislation (the TSC Act) and regulations (the TSC Code of Regulations for Teachers).
Policy implementation may utilize a number of tools or instruments, including a plan of action, a logical framework (log frame), guidelines or similar tools. The chosen instruments should include a timeline that takes into consideration the amount of time required to implement a policy, challenges to doing so, and capacities for operationalizing the policy.
An action plan serves as a roadmap for authorities on implementing a policy’s objectives, strategies and programmes, based on planned resources, defined roles and responsibilities, and the desired timing. Some action plans are formulated more generally, as in the case of the United Kingdom’s plan for teacher education (Box 5.3).
In 2011, the UK DoE published an implementation plan for the ITT Strategy. The plan’s target audience includes major actors in teacher training, namely schools and universities, teachers and teacher trainers. It follows the major themes of the strategy, listing the principal activities expected to be carried out under each major theme: the quality of trainees (five activities); better investment – better teachers (12 activities); and reform of training (nine activities). The plan also includes a chart setting out the important dates and milestones for implementation of the strategy.
The consensus is that a carefully formulated action plan increases the likelihood of successful implementation. Elements to be considered when constructing an action plan include:
Developing an action plan that has a reasonable chance of successfully implementing a teacher policy requires dialogue among various actors with different tasks and roles, as outlined in Chapter 4 and Box 5.1. Since it is a very political process, effective dialogue should take place at different decision-making levels and with the widest possible range of political actors, including:
Given its political nature, the dialogue over the plan’s implementation, like the process of developing the policy itself (Chapter 4), inevitably involves compromises in prioritizing the nature and performance of the required activities. Revisions, postponement or cancellation of lower-priority activities should be expected so that the maximum number of stakeholders/actors can commit to and own the success of the policy and plan. Rather than weaken the plan, a process based on compromise and trade-off will usually enhance the likelihood of successful implementation, if it brings together the maximum partners in the process.
Once decided, the action plan will need to be fully costed and (in as much as possible) funded from within existing resources according to the above parameters. Implementation funding may be distinct from policy development funding (Section 4.3), even if it is part of a unified budget that provides for both from the very beginning. Where necessary and possible, resources may be sought from national stakeholders and/or international partners on a general or project-specific basis (as is the case for general education funding). This highlights the importance of broad-based stakeholder support for the policy and plan to increase the resources dedicated to implementation: the need is often as much a need for human resources as for financial resources. If a funding gap exists, it may be necessary to rethink the plan’s objectives and ambitions or to include alternative means of overcoming constraints in the plan. Funding for implementation through the plan should always be considered over time – not just in the short-term or as associated with a first plan – and should be timed to coincide with government and education authority budgeting cycles (ADEA, 2009: 3; GPE, 2014: 350; IIEP and GPE, 2012: 15–16; ILO, 2014: 4, 33; Yelland and Pont, 2014: 31-32).
If properly adapted, a logical framework (log frame), developed as a project design and management methodology and used by numerous bilateral and multilateral development agencies in high-income countries (World Bank, n.d.), may help those responsible for implementation to follow progress. A log frame matrix links objectives, goals, purposes and expected outputs through planned activities to ‘objectively verifiable’ or measurable indicators. The aim is to measure progress, while also specifying a means of verifying the indicators (information) and assumptions. An example at the international level is the log frame developed by UNESCO for the implementation of its Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (UNESCO, 2007 – http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ images/ 0015/ 001539/ 153940e.pdf ).
A work plan to put strategies or programmes into operation constitutes an alternative approach. Ghana’s work plan in support of its education sector plan (Box 2.1) contains several components, grouped under objectives dedicated to teachers or teaching: improving teaching and learning quality; improving management of education service delivery; and teacher supply and deployment. The work plan’s matrix links these objectives to targets (outcomes and outputs); it provides an outline of the strategy, activities, time frames and responsible units/agencies (Government of Ghana, 2012).
Developing either a log frame or a work plan as part of policy implementation can provide clarity of purpose and direction, and help develop collaboration across units, departments and agencies. The limits of either tool should nevertheless be acknowledged: a tendency towards rigidity as defined by the matrix, and hence a lack of flexibility in adapting implementation to changing circumstances and constraints – political, economic/financial and above all human – as well as a difficulty in obtaining meaningful stakeholder inputs to the matrix, whether at the stage of conception, implementation or monitoring/evaluation. Log frames and work plans remain tools for internal use, helpful for those involved in policy/plan design and implementation, provided they have the knowledge and training to use the tools effectively.
Implementation may often benefit from detailed, practical guidelines for implementing a policy. Guidelines – which may also include or be accompanied by checklists – can be especially beneficial for those actors and stakeholders that were not directly involved in policy development, for instance: decentralized administration; institutions such as teacher education providers; and specialized professional bodies, such as qualifications authorities, standards boards or labour relations forums. Kenya’s policy on teacher recruitment (Box 5.2) contains implementation guidelines and other useful tools.
A monitoring and evaluation plan, featuring the appropriate instruments, should form an integral part of any implementation plan to ensure that the planned activities are carried out and the targets achieved. Resources permitting, one department or unit (for example a dedicated monitoring and evaluation unit, the unit responsible for the EMIS or TMIS, or a cross- departmental team) should be entrusted with periodic monitoring to ensure faithful execution of the plan. Where the education authorities’ human or financial resources are limited (for example, in resource-poor countries, small states or decentralized authorities), at least one member of the plan’s design unit should have such responsibilities.
Monitoring activities may be broken down into:
Monitoring can reveal changes in terms of specific indicators, as measurements of progress or lack thereof, but it cannot necessarily indicate what is responsible for the changes – hence the need for evaluation, which can reveal what happened, why it happened and what difference it makes (Russon, 2010: 108). A mid-term or end-of-term evaluation (or both), preferably carried out by independent personnel to guarantee objectivity, is important in assessing policy implementation and to provide guidance for future implementation. A final review can evaluate impact and outcomes, relevance, cost- effectiveness and sustainability, as well as outline reasons for plan achievement or failure, in particular drawing lessons to guide policy revision and future plans (see the example of Namibia in Box 5.4).
In the early part of the century, major Ministry of Education policies in Namibia required teachers to use learner-centred teaching strategies and to monitor learner performance through a methodology of continuous assessment. To support reform efforts, teacher professional development was initially based on centralized policy formulation, provision of written materials on policies and their implementation, and cascade training, moving from the central Ministry to education regions to smaller groups of schools and, finally, to teachers in schools.
An evolving Ministry of Education strategy, based on decentralized, bottom-up teacher development, in which teachers were expected to act as the conduits for new policy and reform implementation rather than being the subject of guidelines and training programmes, led the MoE to develop a school self-assessment system. Aspects of teacher classroom instruction became one of the system components to support more effective implementation of instructional strategy reforms and track school performance. An observation protocol with specific indicators was used as the basis for teachers, parents, community members and the principal to discuss responses and collaboratively develop a school summary, later used in developing school plans for improvement activities. The results pointed to a need for greater collaboration between teachers and additionally to the need for increased support and a feedback mechanism to give teachers more of a voice in their own professional development and, by extension, better policy implementation.
Effective monitoring and evaluation requires clear and measurable indicators linked to the set targets. Key indicators should be:
In this regard, indicators need to be agreed with and accepted by stakeholders and – if relevant to the policy’s implementation – by development partners (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 15–18; ILO, 2012: 64, 102, 133–134). Through the appropriate social dialogue mechanisms (see Chapter 4), teachers at the school level and teachers’ organizations at other levels can provide valuable input into priority indicators for learning outcomes that are measurable, meaningful and equitable in relation to classroom realities and respect the requirement for consistency over time.
While the designers of an implementation plan will invariably have quantitative indicators to guide implementation, greater reliance on qualitative information from stakeholders or independent researchers can be a valuable supplement for gauging success or failure, thereby influencing policy and strategic planning for greater impact. The approach is crucial in assessing the attitudes and behaviours of perhaps the most important actors in policy implementation – teachers – who, for many reasons related to their personal and professional backgrounds, experiences, and perceptions of their status, often become reluctant implementers of a policy into which they had little or no input during the development process (Smit, 2005; Hargreaves, 1994; Hargreaves, 1998).
In addition to the perceptions and feedback of teachers and school leaders on the plan’s implementation and overall policy objectives, monitoring and evaluation may be an opportunity to use an institutional mechanism – social dialogue – to ensure greater teacher voice in the process at the school level, if that voice is not already present at other policy stages (see Chapters 2–4) (ILO, 2012: 216-217).
Increasingly, a more bottom-up (as opposed to top-down) approach to monitoring and evaluating policy design and implementation is favoured:
Whether in a centralized, federal or highly decentralized education system, identifying who is responsible for which parts of policy implementation at what level (see also Chapter 4) provides clarity on responsibilities, tasks and lines of communication (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 13; UNESCO, 2012a: 42–45). Defining responsibilities ranging from the highest national executive level to the school level is especially important for those most directly engaged with teachers – for example principals/school heads, inspectors, teacher educators, standard setters (professional qualification bodies) and employing authorities (teacher or public service commissions, private school managers/ employers). The multi-layered world of ECE planning and governance, often split between many government ministries or agencies, provides a good example of the importance of inter-agency/ministerial coordination for success in education policy (ILO, 2014: 33).
This is why the process requires an assessment of key success factors and roadblocks, as well as accompanying decisions on who does what, when, where and how. Such decisions should define leadership and implementation responsibilities, in addition to outlining the human and financial capacity to implement. Defining the process for implementation must address political and other hurdles that stand in the way of success. If these factors are not included in the action plan, they should be set out in an accompanying assessment, backed up by organizational directives as needed.
Designating the individuals responsible for leadership and overall implementation of the policy, as well as for specific programmes or activities, and defining how they will be held accountable, are key issues to be addressed in teacher policy, as in overall education sector policy. For instance:
Adequate capacity to implement a policy effectively is crucial in ensuring success. Among the factors that can be directly influenced by policy- and decision-makers, a capacity analysis of key actors for implementation should at least consider:
Successful implementation crucially requires developing and enhancing capacity to take into account these factors. Where gaps are identified, training in planning, management, communication and other skills should be considered in advance of or parallel to implementation. Any external technical support (e.g. individuals, institutions/agencies or governments) should be targeted to further develop national capacity, whether at the central, regional or local level (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 8, 13, 24). Trinidad and Tobago’s strategic education plan’s goal of transforming the Ministry of Education into a high-performing organization outlines the strategy/priority on institutional capability and capacity, with a focus on seventeen activities related to leadership, governance and integrated management; monitoring and evaluation systems; planning; policy development and management; operations and processes; and information systems management (MOE/Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, 2012: 16–18).
The country and administrative contexts, as well as decisions about leadership, responsibilities and capacity, will largely determine the most appropriate implementation structures or bodies. The strategy may rely on existing structures of public or education administration, including dedicated public or teacher employment bodies (PSCs or TSCs); devolve responsibility to an independent or autonomous entity, such as a teacher professional or qualifications council; or create a new implementation structure – perhaps outside government authority – such as a national professional foundation or other body. Whatever the path chosen, it should respond to some key questions:
All aspects of implementation (at least the major ones highlighted above) need to be budgeted, including:
As with policy development (Chapter 4) and the development of the action plan set out earlier in this chapter, funding may come from national or sub-national sources (public budget or a mix of public and private sources), as well as development partners. Implementing a teacher policy may be a lesser priority for development partners, but not excluded. External support where necessary can be sought from many of the partners cited in Chapter 2 (Section 2.3), for example through the country support function of the International Teacher Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, or the development and implementation grant-funding mechanisms of the GPE. The conditions for such funding, whether channelled through general or education sector budget support or through earmarked funding for selected activities, need to be clear, and country ownership maintained. A feasible policy action plan, or one perceived as such, can itself help mobilize resources to implement policies.
If funding gaps exist, strategies and plans may have to be revised – for example, by devising more cost-effective implementation means, including greater synergies in structures/management or activities, or delegating responsibility for activities from central to decentralized bodies or to other stakeholders. The overall objectives and major priorities should always be kept in mind during the revision process (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 14).
As discussed in this Guide, policy development and implementation is a complex process and subject to political contestation. Effective teacher policy implementation requires awareness of the context-specific political and cultural dynamics in which policies are created and take root. This requires an implementation approach that focuses explicitly on the contextual constraints and the expectations of local agents and constituencies beyond the state, and factors in existing power relations to ensure that a teacher policy will result in the desired changes.
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